Hundreds of families gather gifts from Salvation Army Angel Tree, Toys for Tots

ABILENE, Texas - About 2,500 kids will be helped by donations to The Salvation Army Angel Tree and Toys for Tots this Christmas season.

Hundreds of families gathered up their gifts Thursday at the Abilene Civic Center. It was the first of two days toys will be distributed.

About 25 families went through every 15 minutes to pick out toys for their kids to open Christmas morning.

This is the second year in a row that every angel on the Salvation Army tree was adopted.

"The response we've had from the community has been overwhelming. It touches my heart to be in a community, to live and work in a community that is so giving and so generous with their time and their donations," said Capt. Linda Keeney of the Salvation Army.

The organization teamed up with the Marines and the Toys for Tots Drive to distribute the gifts.

"I can't imagine what it would be like to not be able to provide Christmas for my kids and so this program is so important to these families," Keeney said.

Like the family of Pebbles Lee, who has three kids. They rely on the donations for the holiday.

"If they didn't help us out, they wouldn't have a Christmas," Lee said. "A lot of people look down on it, but I see it as if you can't do it, ask for the help. And I couldn't do it so I asked for help."

About 25 Marines were there to lend a hand to those families as well. 1stSgt. Isreal Rivera said that behind the tough exterior, the Marines genuinely enjoy giving back to the community.

"All that hard work, standing out there in the cold, you kinda forget about that," Rivera said. "You're bringing a smile to a child and that's what it's all about, that's why we're all out here."

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